Corporate insolvencies in England and Wales began to return last month to levels last seen before the pandemic as more businesses failed over debts. The number of companies going bust reached 1,560, more than double the figure of a year ago and similar to that of January 2020, before the onset of Covid-19. (The Times £

The impact of the first year of Brexit on Ireland has been revealed after official data showed cross-border trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland jumped by €2.8bn (£2.3bn) in 2021. The breakdown of figures show the biggest increase in trade in both directions was in food and live animals. (The Guardian)  

A million adults in the UK went an entire day without food last month as the cost of living rises, data reveals. (Sky News

Wage growth in the UK struggled to keep up with increasing inflation between October and December 2021, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data (Sky News). UK wage growth continued to lag behind the rising cost of living between October and December, figures show (The BBC). 

Natalie Ceeney in The Times says business has a big role to play in mitigating the crisis in the cost of living. “As Asda has shown, executives can take decisions that avoid disproportionate impact on customers on the lowest incomes. Thoughtful marketing is important as lower-income consumers may struggle to access deals if offered on direct debit, online or in bulk. With more than half of those in poverty also in work, there are compelling reasons to ignore the governor of the Bank of England’s call for wage restraint for front-line workforces.” (The Times £

“How Unilever’s tea business became a test of private equity’s conscience”, writes the FT, looking at CVC’s $4.5bn deal to buy brands such as PG Tips and how it means it will also be responsible for plantations in Africa. Two of the three final bidders for the tea business, buyout groups Advent International and Carlyle, pulled out, at least partly, over concerns surrounding the plantations. An indication, say people close to both buyout groups, that even in private equity fears over the social or reputational consequences of deals are gaining traction, as ethics and sustainability rise up investors’ agendas. (The Financial Times £